More half-truth deceit?

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Ireland’s maternal mortality rate is twice as high as has been previously reported, new figures show.

Does this not give the impression that previously reported figures failed to report what they should have reported?

Irish Health.com tells us this on its Newsletter and does so with a very clear agenda – to promote the rush to abortion legislation in Ireland on the back of Savita Halappanavar’s death. But that story, as any honest reader knows, is not as simple as Irish Health.com’s editor, Niall Hunter, pretends. In a posted response to a reader who complained about his story, Hunter shows clearly where he is coming from – and where he wants to take us.

Rarely, he says, has a single health story so captivated the country as the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar. Having dodged the issue for 20 years, now the Dáil must act to legislate so that no more women should have to suffer as Savita did…

Neither are the statistics he uses in his story as straightforward as he, with sleight of hand, suggests they are.

He bases his story on the first report from the recently-established Maternal Death Enquiry – MDE – Ireland. That report, he says, shows that our maternal death rate is 8 per 100,000 births, compared with 4 per 100,000 reported by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

A truthful presentation of this information would have said that on one set of criteria, statistics show what the CSO tells us; on a different set of criteria we get the MDE figure. Take your pick and argue the case for your chosen criteria – but do not say bluntly that the figure in question is twice as high as has been previously reported. That is – at best – a half-truth. At worst it is a deliberate attempt to deceive and mislead.

The MDE Ireland report, he tells us, which uses wider criteria for defining maternal death than that used by the CSO, found that in the years 2009 to 2011 inclusive, 25 mothers who attended maternity hospitals with their pregnancies died. Am I being over-suspicious in thinking that he is slipping this clause in under the radar: which uses wider criteria for defining maternal death than that used by the CSO? Given his agenda, I don’t think so.

The Irish report, he explains, adopted the more comprehensive British classification system for determining maternal death, and collated detailed data on mortality from hospitals. It classified two of the deaths in the period as being due to suicide. We are not told anything about those suicides or whether or not they were related directly to the pregnancies. This suggests more programming in favour of the forthcoming debate in which some will be trying to include threats of suicide as a pretext for signing off for abortions. More comprehensive”.  Does that always mean more accurate and informative?

We live in dangerous times when agencies claiming the respectability which Irish Health.com claims peddle this kind of propaganda.

Repeat after me: “No medical evidence was offered”

This, in The Irish Times, September 24, helps put the record straight in “the paper of record”:

Sir, – Claire Brophy (September 19th) has got her facts wrong regarding the A, B, C v Ireland case.
C did not have cancer when she became pregnant and she most certainly did not have to travel to England for an abortion “so that her cancer could be treated”. C had completed chemotherapy for “a rare form of cancer” when she came pregnant and had sought information from her GP, “as well as several medical consultants” on what treatment options would be available her should her cancer happen to relapse during pregnancy. No medical evidence on the supposed life-threatening nature of a condition she might develop was offered to the court and no information regarding which medical specialties she had allegedly consulted was offered.

There exist specialists within medicine for a reason: it is a subject too extensive for every doctor to know everything. If a patient’s healthcare needs are beyond your capabilities you refer to your specialised colleague for expert input, such as in the case of cancer complicating pregnancy. Did this happen in the case of C? We simply don’t know. Perhaps the IFPA could enlighten us before people criticise Irish healthcare.

What we do know is that we have already heard from specialists who are far more qualified in the area of gynaecological oncology than I or Claire Brophy. Speaking at the International Symposium on Maternal Health in Dublin, Dr Frédéric Amant, who for his groundbreaking research into the safe delivery of chemotherapy during pregnancy was described by Lancet Oncology as “leading the agenda on cancer in pregnancy” concluded that, “in the case of cancer complicating pregnancy, termination of pregnancy does not improve maternal prognosis”. This mirrors the comments of our own home-grown expert in oncology, Dr John Crown, who tweeted earlier this year, “I don’t think I ever had a case where abortion was necessary to save mom”. The experts have spoken.

Finally, there’s no room in this debate for the unsubstantiated claims made by Ms Brophy and by Patricia Lohr (September 13th) that women are travelling to England for “life-saving abortions”. I would invite them to reveal the British department of health statistics, which are available under FOI, any case whereby an Irish woman accessed a “life-saving abortion” in England on account of being refused life-saving treatment in Ireland. – Is mise,

Dr EOGHAN de FAOITE,
O’Connell Avenue, Dublin 7.

Why do they not listen? The amount of misinformation being circulated by those campaigning for abortion and the dishonesty underlying it is truly appalling.